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Pretrial Detention

Exploring cost and outcome of detaining people before trial or deportation (ie. instead of bail or other alternatives)

Below, we've curated a list of virtually all the research about pretrial detention available online.

More than 400,000 people in the U.S. are currently being detained pretrial – in other words, they are awaiting trial and still legally innocent. Many are jailed pretrial simply because they can't afford money bail, others because a probation, parole, or ICE office has placed a "hold" on their release. The number of people in jail pretrial has nearly quadrupled since the 1980s.

You can also see a selection of our best original research related to pretrial detention (and jails in general) on our Jails page.

  • High stakes mistakes: How courts respond to "failure to appear" Prison Policy Initiative, August, 2023“We find that, on balance, "failure to appear" policies are about punishment, not improving appearance rates.”
  • Does Jail Contribute to Individuals Churning in and Out of the Criminal Legal System? A Quasiexperimental Evaluation of Pretrial Detention on Time Until New Arrest Ian A. Silver, Jason Walker, Matthew DeMichele, and Ryan M. Labrecque, July, 2023“Spending more than 7 days in pretrial detention was associated with an increased probability of a new arrest and new violent arrest earlier when compared to spending 1 day or less in pretrial detention.”
  • Assessing the Effectiveness of Pretrial Special Conditions Full Findings from the Pretrial Justice Collaborative Chloe Anderson, Erin Valentine, and Daron Holman, June, 2023“The analysis found that being released on [electronic monitoring] or sobriety monitoring did not significantly improve court appearance rates.”
  • Cost of Discretion: Judicial Decision-Making, Pretrial Detention, and Public Safety in New York City Scrutinize, QSIDE Institute, and NYU School of Law, May, 2023“The estimated impact of these judges' disproportionately carceral decisions over 2.5 years amounts to 580 additional people detained, 154 additional years of pretrial detention, and over $77 million of additional costs borne by New York City taxpayers.”
  • New West Virginia Capias Law - Effective June 9, 2023 West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, May, 2023“In March 2023, lawmakers passed legislation to address a growing reason why people are taken to West Virginia jails: capiases (also known as bench warrants). Senate Bill 633 provides a uniform standard for addressing capiases...”
  • Does New York's Bail Reform Law Impact Recidivism? A Quasi-Experimental Test in New York City Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College, March, 2023“The results indicate that bail reform's mandatory release provisions significantly reduced two-year re-arrest rates for any charge (44% vs. 50%) and for a felony (24% vs. 27%).”
  • Is Bail Reform Causing an Increase in Crime? Don Stemen and David Olson, January, 2023“We considered eleven bail-reform jurisdictions to determine the effect, if any, of these policy changes on crime. Violent crime trends after reforms present no clear or obvious pattern in these jurisdictions.”
  • Understanding Trends in Jail Populations, 2014 to 2019: A Multi-Site Analysis Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College, December, 2022“People who were charged, but not yet convicted of a crime (pretrial admissions) were the majority of admissions in all three counties (St. Louis, MO, Durham, NC, and Louisville, KY) in 2014 and 2019.”
  • Louisiana Justice: Pre-trial, Incarceration, & Reentry Incarceration Transparency and Public Welfare Foundation, November, 2022“This report significantly expands understanding of the state's practice of confining almost half of the prison population in local jails...creating political and financial incentives at the local level to build larger and higher-capacity facilities.”
  • Women's Pathways Into and Out of Jail in Buncombe County Vera Institute of Justice, November, 2022“Very high bond amounts present an insurmountable challenge, leaving women with no other option but pretrial incarceration. Many women with bond amounts less than $10,000 found this sum impossible to pay, even when required to post only 10 percent...”
  • Pretrial Electronic Monitoring in San Francisco California Policy Lab, November, 2022“The use of pretrial EM increased more than twenty-fold between 2017 and 2021.”
  • Obscuring the Truth: How Misinformation is Skewing the Conversation about Pretrial Justice Reforms in Illinois End Money Bond, October, 2022“By detailing how misinformation shaped the public debate of pretrial justice reforms in Cook County, we hope to arm journalists with the resources needed to cover the statewide reforms included in the Pretrial Fairness Act.”
  • There Are Better Solutions: An Analysis of Fulton County [Georgia]'s Jail Population Data, 2022 American Civil Liberties Union, October, 2022“The county's failure to account for ability to pay bail, confinement of people charged only with misdemeanors, failure to timely indict people, and failure to fully utilize diversion programs has led to population levels above capacity at the jail.”
  • Coming Up Short: The Unrealized Promise of In Re Humphrey UCLA School of Law and UC Berkeley Law, October, 2022“The California Supreme Court ruled...that setting bail at an amount that a person cannot afford to pay is unconstitutional...18 month after it was decided, [Humphrey] remains unmet.”
  • All profit, no risk: How the bail industry exploits the legal system Prison Policy Initiative, October, 2022“While this report details the many legal advantages bail companies have secured for themselves, we conclude that "fixing" the system is not a viable option.”
  • Freedom Denied: How the Culture of Detention Created a Federal Jailing Crisis Alison Siegler, October, 2022“Our courtwatching data reveal the myriad ways in which judges detain federal arrestees in contravention of the legal standards in the [Bail Reform Act of 1984].”
  • Electronic Monitoring Fees: A 50-State Survey of the Costs Assessed to People on E-Supervision Fines and Fees Justice Center, September, 2022“At least 26 states have statutes or rules that impose fees to cover the costs of an EM program without specifying an amount, allowing [a company] to set any fee it deems appropriate, with little to no oversight to check such decisions.”
  • Rethinking Electronic Monitoring: A Harm Reduction Guide American Civil Liberties Union, September, 2022“Rather than serve as an alternative to physical confinement, EM expands mass incarceration -- operating as a digital form of imprisonment and often leading people back into physical jails and prisons for minor technical violations.”
  • Cages Without Bars: Pretrial Electronic Monitoring Across the United States Patrice James et al, September, 2022“Rather than serve as an alternative to physical confinement, electronic monitoring expands mass incarceration -- operating as a digital form of imprisonment and often leading people back into physical jails and prisons for minor technical violations.”(The harms caused by EM to people and communities are so great that EM cannot be "reformed" or adapted into a practice that is not still no longer fundamentally carceral, punitive, and harmful. The goal must be to end its use.)
  • Electronic Monitoring Fees: A 50-State Survey of the Costs Assessed to People on E-Supervision Fines and Fees Justice Center, September, 2022“Broad language in state statutes and rules often gives local governments considerable latitude in determining how much to charge. From a limited review of 31 local jurisdictions with EM programs, fees ranged from less than $1 a day up to $40 per day”
  • The Effects of Misdemeanor Bail Reform Paul Heaton, University of Pennsylvania Law School Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, August, 2022“Misdemeanor pretrial reform produced more lenient outcomes and reduced the system's imprint without adversely impacting public safety.”
  • Does Public Health Start Within Jails? A New Incentive for Reform of Wisconsin's Bail System Mahmood N. Abdellatif, July, 2022“There is a growing impetus for states like Wisconsin to reduce their incarcerated populations by enacting sensible bail reforms that effectively consider a detainee's real threat to their communities or likelihood to abscond.”
  • Technical Violations and Their Effects on Pretrial/Bond Supervision Outcomes Paywall :( Haley R. Zettler and Kelli D. Martin, June, 2022“While technical violations are associated with pretrial failure, the effects vary by violation type. Furthermore, the findings illustrate differences in risk factors for technical violations while on pretrial/bond supervision.”
  • Findings and Policy Solutions from New Hanover, Orange, and Robeson Counties North Carolina Court Appearance Project, April, 2022“About 1 in 6 jail bookings in project counties occurred solely because of a failure to appear.”
  • The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention Revisited Christopher Lowenkamp, March, 2022“There is no observable "deterrent effect" of pretrial detention, and in fact there is a consistent "criminogenic effect" of pretrial detention on rearrest.”(This report follows up on Lowenkamp's 2013 report, The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention, which also examined jail admissions in Kentucky.)
  • The benefits of live court date reminder phone calls during pretrial case processing Paywall :( Russell Ferri, March, 2022“Court date reminders [via phone call] reduced the failure to appear (FTA) rate by 37%. The results suggest the timing of the reminders was not important.”
  • report thumbnail Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2022 Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2022“This big-picture view is a lens through which the main drivers of mass incarceration come into focus; it allows us to identify important, but often ignored, systems of confinement.”
  • Pretrial Release and Misconduct in Federal District Courts, Fiscal Years 2011-2018 Bureau of Justice Statistics, March, 2022“While 19% of all released defendants committed some form of pretrial misconduct during FYs 2011-18, defendants with a financial bond (10%) did so less often than defendants with an unsecured bond (20%).”
  • The Civil Rights Implications of Cash Bail U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, January, 2022(This report examines pretrial incarceration trends, constitutional and legal concerns regarding pretrial and bail practices, an analysis of the role of the federal government regarding bail practices, and an in-depth investigation of four jurisdictions.)
  • Broken Rules: How Pennsylvania Courts Use Cash Bail to Incarcerate People Before Trial ACLU Pennsylvania, December, 2021“The average statewide bail amount was $38,433 -- more than half the average household income in Pennsylvania.”
  • Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal Legal System Kate Weisburd et al., September, 2021“Monitoring and its attendant rules significantly burden basic rights, liberty and dignity.”
  • On the Road to Freedom: An Abolitionist Assessment of Pretrial & Bail Reforms Critical Resistance, June, 2021“While ending money bail is nonnegotiable for our movement, our goal is to weaken the state's power to jail, surveil, and punish.”
  • Removing Barriers to Pretrial Appearance Lessons Learned from Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and Hennepin County, Minnesota Urban Institute, June, 2021“Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Court Ride [in Hennepin Cty, Minn.] had reduced barriers to court appearance (87.51%) and FTA rates for their clients (78.13%), and that it had reduced the number of their clients in custody (64.51%).”
  • Pretrial Detention, Release, and Bail Practice in Oregon Oregon Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, June, 2021“There is a lack of data collected by Oregon's county and municipal jails...there are 16 different jail management systems across the state.”
  • Jails, Sheriffs, and Carceral Policymaking Aaron Littman, May, 2021“Sheriffs have a unique combination of controls over how big and how full their jails are, but this role consolidation does not produce the restraint that some have predicted. Their disclaimers of responsibility are a smokescreen...”
  • Enhanced Public Defense Improves Pretrial Outcomes and Reduces Racial Disparities Paul Heaton, May, 2021“Bail advocates did not reduce detention rates (at least on average) but did substantially reduce clients' likelihood of bail violation (-64%) and future arrest (- 26%).”
  • What Doesn't Get Measured Doesn't Get Done: A Roadmap for Data Collection and Reporting in the Era of Bail Reform Joanna Thomas, Abdiaziz Ahmed, New York City Criminal Justice Agency, April, 2021“Proper pretrial data collection, analysis, and reporting can help to build systems that meet local needs, save money, improve program practices, and decrease jail crowding.”
  • ALC Court Watch Docket Report #02 Maintaining Apartheid: Arrest and Cash Bail in Allegheny County Abolitionist Law Center, April, 2021“In a county that is less than 13% Black, 56% of all arrests between Aug 14 and Dec 31 of 2020 were of Black residents.”
  • Mortality in Local Jails, 2000-2018 - Statistical Tables Bureau of Justice Statistics, April, 2021“In 2018, a total of 1,120 inmates died in local jails, an increase of nearly 2% from the 1,099 deaths reported in 2017.”
  • One Year Later: Bail Reform and Judicial Decision-Making in New York City Center for Court Innovation, April, 2021“Predictably, making more cases newly re-eligible for bail and detention in July increased judges' use of both options.”
  • Pleading for Justice: Bullpen Therapy, Pre-Trial Detention, and Plea Bargains in American Courts Paywall :( Amy E. Lerman, Ariel Lewis Green, and Patricio Dominguez, March, 2021“In a national sample, defendants held in custody pre-trial are significantly more likely to enter a guilty plea, all else equal.”
  • Monitoring Pretrial Reform in Harris County: Second Report of the Court-Appointed Monitor Independent Monitor for the Odonnell v. Harris County Decree, March, 2021“These data analyses show an overall decrease in the duration of pretrial detention: in more than 80% of the cases since 2017, defendants spent two days or fewer in jail before their release.”
  • The Legacy of Slavery and Mass Incarceration: Evidence from Felony Case Outcomes Aaron Gottlieb and Kalen Flynn, March, 2021“We find that a criminal charge in a county with high levels of slavery in 1860 increases the likelihood of pretrial detention, the probability of a sentence of incarceration, and the length of incarceration sentences.”
  • An Essay Concerning Pretrial Services Lehigh County Controller, January, 2021“In 2019, there were a total of 5,230 cases that made their way through Lehigh County's criminal justice system...Of those cases, roughly 49% were unable to post bail.”
  • Releasing people pretrial doesn't harm public safety Prison Policy Initiative, November, 2020“No matter the type of pretrial reform, the results were the same: Releasing people pretrial did not negatively impact public safety.”
  • Dollars and Sense in Cook County: Examining the Impact of General Order 18.8A on Felony Bond Court Decisions, Pretrial Release, and Crime Safety and Justice Challenge, November, 2020“GO18.8A also had no impact on new criminal activity or new violent criminal activity of those defendants released.”
  • ALC Court Watch Docket Report #01 Cash Bail, Arbitrary Detention and Apartheid in Allegheny County Abolitionist Law Center, November, 2020“Black residents of Allegheny County are more likely to be arrested, charged, and have monetary bail imposed against them.”
  • The Case Against Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments Pretrial Justice Institute, November, 2020“RAIs simply add a veneer of scientific objectivity and mathematical precision to what are really very weak guesses about the future, based on information gathered from within a structurally racist and unequal system of law, policy and practice.”
  • New BJS data reveals a jail-building boom in Indian country Prison Policy Initiative, October, 2020“The share of people held pretrial in Indian country jails increased by 20 percentage points (an 80% increase) from 1999 to 2018, and the average length of stay in Indian country jails has doubled since 2002.”
  • Measuring Racial Discrimination in Bail Decisions David Arnold, Will Dobbie, and Peter Hull, October, 2020“Our most conservative estimates from NYC show that approximately two-thirds of the observed racial disparity in release decisions is due to racial discrimination, with around one-third due to unobserved racial differences in misconduct risk.”
  • Ohio Could Save Big by Implementing Bail Reform: A Fiscal Impact Analysis ACLU of Ohio, September, 2020(Over 3,000 people charged with a misdemeanor are awaiting trial in Ohio jails at an annual cost of $74 to $96 million. And nearly 9,600 people charged with a felony are awaiting trial in Ohio jails at an annual cost of $235 to $306 million.)
  • Monitoring Pretrial Reform in Harris County: First Sixth Month Report of the Court-Appointed Monitor Independent Monitor for the Odonnell v. Harris County Decree, September, 2020“Second, contrary to bail industry and prosecutor propaganda, the data shows that recidivism has not increased, but is actually slightly down. This suggests that systems can release far more people while also reducing the rates of new arrests.”
  • National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies COVID-19 Policy Response Survey National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, July, 2020“Most surveyed jurisdictions increased: use of video conferencing for court hearings, pretrial release, release on personal recognizance for non-violent crimes, and cite & release.”
  • The "Radical" Notion of the Presumption of Innocence Square One Project, May, 2020“Of the approximately 612,000 individuals that are currently being held in county jails, the vast majority, about 460,000, are awaiting some type of adjudication and thus are presumed innocent.”
  • Bail Reform Revisited: The Impact of New York's Amended Bail Law on Pretrial Detention Center for Court Innovation, May, 2020“When compared to the original reforms passed in 2019, the amendments will produce a 16 percent relative increase in the use of money bail and pretrial detention among New York City criminal cases and a 16 percent increase in the pretrial jail population.”
  • Do Public Defender Resources Matter? The Effect of Public Defender and Support Staff Caseloads on the Incarceration of Felony Defendants Aaron Gottlieb and Kelsey Arnold, April, 2020“Results suggest that felony defendants in counties with higher public defender and support staff caseloads are more likely to be detained pretrial and that felony defendants in counties with smaller support staff caseloads receive shorter incarceration.”
  • Why Bail Reform is Safe and Effective: The Case of Cook County The JFA Institute, April, 2020“Judge Evans' Order has resulted in over 3,000 people each year who no longer are needlessly jailed because they can't afford bail. Thousands more are either spending less time in jail or avoiding prison sentences. And crime rates have dropped.”
  • (New) Multnomah County Pretrial System Assessment Justice System Partners, February, 2020“Addressing the over-supervision of pretrial defendants, especially low risk defendants that make up 53% of their court ordered population, will improve the program and save resources to potentially accept more cases.”
  • After Cash Bail: A Framework for Reimagining Pretrial Justice The Bail Project, February, 2020“As we look to a future after cash bail, it is clear that transformational change will require a clear commitment to move past the incarceration paradigm and reimagine how society responds to poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, and violence.”
  • Civil Rights and Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments David G. Robinson and Logan Koepke, December, 2019“Pretrial risk assessment instruments often appear to function as a substitute for broader or more fundamental changes.”
  • An Organizer's Guide to Confronting Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools in Decarceration Campaigns Community Justice Exchange, December, 2019“This guide provides tools for opposing [risk assessment tools], and an analysis that our opposition to them is one part of a larger organizing strategy to end pretrial incarceration and mass supervision.”
  • How race impacts who is detained pretrial Prison Policy Initiative, November, 2019“In large urban areas, Black felony defendants are over 25% more likely than white defendants to be held pretrial.”
  • Time, Money, and Punishment: Institutional Racial-Ethnic Inequalities in Pretrial Detention and Case Outcomes Paywall :( Brandon P. Martinez, Nick Petersen, Marisa Omori, October, 2019“Results indicate that time and money significantly stratify defendants by race and ethnicity, where bond amounts increase time detained, and that time detained in turn reinforces racial inequalities in conviction and incarceration.”
  • Assessing Potential Impacts of 2020 Bail Reforms in New York City Data Collaborative for Justice, September, 2019“Had the 2020 Bail Reforms been in place in 2018, 20,349 of the 31,609 cases where bail was set would have resulted in release without bail.”
  • New York, New York: Highlights of the 2019 Bail Reform Law Vera Institute of Justice, July, 2019“If implemented effectively, a conservative estimate of the legislation's impact suggests that New York can expect at least a 40 percent reduction overall in the state's pretrial jail population.”
  • Disparate Justice: Where Kentuckians Live Determines Whether They Stay in Jail Because They Can't Afford Cash Bail Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, June, 2019“In certain counties, people with low incomes face much higher risk of harms from being detained in jail ranging from job loss to higher likelihoods of being found guilty and committing crimes in the future.”
  • Paid in Full: A Plan to End Money Injustice in New Orleans Vera Institute of Justice, June, 2019“Money injustice is deeply unfair and harmful to those directly impacted, exacerbates poverty and racial inequality, wastes scarce taxpayer dollars, and does not deliver the safety all people value.”
  • The Immediate Consequences of Federal Pretrial Detention Stephanie Holmes Didwania, June, 2019“Using data spanning 71 federal district courts, I find that pretrial release reduces a defendant's sentence length by around 67 percent and increases the probability that a defendant will receive a sentence below the recommended sentencing range.”
  • Do Detainees Plead Guilty Faster? A Survival Analysis of Pretrial Detention and the Timing of Guilty Pleas Paywall :( Nick Peterson, April, 2019“Survival analyses indicate that pretrial detainees plead guilty 2.86 times faster than released defendants do.”
  • Bail Reform in New York: Legislative Provisions and Implications for New York City Center for Court Innovation, April, 2019“In New York City, 43 percent of the almost 5,000 people detained pretrial on April 1, 2019 would have been released under the new legislation. Outside of New York City, the effects could be even greater.”
  • Evaluation of Pretrial Justice System Reforms That Use the Public Safety Assessment: Effects in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina MDRC, March, 2019“Mecklenburg County substantially reduced its use of money bail and detained fewer defendants, without sacrificing public safety or court appearance rates.”
  • Pretrial Release Without Money: New York City, 1987-2018 New York City Criminal Justice Agency, March, 2019“In 2018 there were more than three times as many releases without money than money bails.”
  • Evaluating the Impacts of Eliminating Prosecutorial Requests for Cash Bail Aurelie Ouss and Megan T. Stevenson, February, 2019“In spite of this large decrease in the fraction of defendants having monetary incentives to show up to court, we detect no change in failure-to-appear in court or in recidivism.”
  • Bail and Pretrial Detention: Contours and Causes of Temporal and County Variation Katherine Hood and Daniel Schneider, February, 2019“The politicization of judicial offices, partisan affiliations of district attorneys and governors, income inequality, unemployment rates, and the size of the black population all seem to be related to bail-setting practices.”
  • Impact of Risk Assessment on Judges' Fairness in Sentencing Relatively Poor Defendants Jennifer L. Skeem, Nicholas Scurich, and John Monahan, January, 2019“When risk assessment information was added to these cases, judges were more likely to sentence the relatively poor defendant to incarceration than his more affluent counterpart.”
  • Examining Judicial Pretrial Release Decisions: The Influence of Risk Assessments and Race Brian P. Schaefer and Tom Hughes,, January, 2019“The findings indicate that Black, moderate or high risk felony arrestees are more likely to be required to post a financial bond than non-financial bond compared to their White or lower risk counterparts.”
  • Where Pretrial Improvements Are Happening Pretrial Justice Institute, January, 2019“There are many ways jurisdictions can improve pretrial systems and the outcomes they produce without introducing new laws or amending state constitutions. Simply changing practice within existing legal structures can create immediate and positive results.”
  • The Economics of Bail and Pretrial Detention The Hamilton Project, December, 2018“Pretrial detention has a substantially negative economic impact on individuals, disrupting their labor market activities and causing increased recidivism.”
  • How does unaffordable money bail affect families? Prison Policy Initiative, August, 2018“Using a national data set, we find that over half of the people held in jail pretrial because they can't afford bail are parents of minor children.”
  • Unequal Treatment: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Miami-Dade Criminal Justice ACLU Florida Greater Miami, July, 2018(This report finds that from arrest to sentencing, racial disparities exist at each decision point in the Miami-Dade County's criminal justice system.)
  • The Impact of Early Representation: An Analysis of the San Francisco Public Defender's Pre-Trial Release Unit California Policy Lab, June, 2018(In October 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender's Office piloted the Pre-Trial Release Unit (PRU) which doubled the likelihood of release at arraignment - from 14% to 28% - for arrestees who received arrest-responsive interventions from the PRU.)
  • Open Roads and Overflowing Jails: Addressing High Rates of Rural Pretrial Incarceration Right On Crime, May, 2018(This report examines the contributors to rural pretrial incarceration and makes evidence-based recommendations to improve public safety while reducing the number of defendants held pretrial.)
  • Racial Bias in Bail Decisions David Arnold, Will Dobbie, and Crystal S. Yang, April, 2018“Estimates from Miami and Philadelphia show that bail judges are racially biased against black defendants, with substantially more racial bias among both inexperienced and part-time judges.”
  • Defining Flight Risk Lauryn P. Gouldin, April, 2018“Even as scholars, reformers, and practitioners are showing renewed interest in pretrial detention and bail, there is little focus on one central question: the appropriate meaning and role of what is often called "flight risk."”
  • Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force: Report and Recommendations Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force, March, 2018(Money bail should not be used to simply detain defendants. Rather than relying on bond schedules, courts should assess each defendant's risk of non-appearance and danger to the community using a uniform risk assessment tool.)
  • Presumed Innocent for a Price: The Impact of Cash Bail Across Eight New York Counties New York Civil Liberties Union, March, 2018(This report shows that over a five year period, tens of thousands of New Yorkers were jailed without having had their day in court simply because they could not pay bail.)
  • Advancing Bail Reform in Maryland: Progress and Possibilities Baltimore City and Prince George's County Branches of the NAACP, February, 2018“This report argues that Maryland policymakers should continue to strengthening the alternatives to bail and pretrial detention.”
  • The Effects of Pretrial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges Will Dobbie, Jacob Goldin, and Crystal S. Yang, January, 2018(We find that pretrial detention significantly increases the probability of conviction, primarily through an increase in guilty pleas. It has no net effect on future crime, but decreases formal sector employment and the receipt of some government benefits.)
  • The Price for Freedom: Bail in the City of L.A. Million Dollar Hoods, December, 2017(The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), using the Los Angeles County Superior Court's misdemeanor and felony bail schedules, levied over $19 billion in money bail on persons they arrested between 2012 and 2016.)
  • Empire State of Incarceration Vera Institute of Justice, December, 2017(This report analyzes county-level factors that lead people to jail in New York state, providing a deeper understanding of the drivers of local incarceration.)
  • Yakima County, Washington Pretrial Justice System Improvements: Pre- and Post- Implementation Analysis Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative, November, 2017“Jurisdiction can reduce pretrial detention & improve racial/ethnic equity by replacing high use of secured money bail with non-financial release conditions guided by actuarial-risk-based decision making, with no harm to public safety or court appearance.”
  • Economic Impacts of Cash Bail on the City of Philadelphia City of Philadelphia Office of the Controller, October, 2017(The City of Philadelphia, by eliminating the cash bail system, could save over $75 million annually and provide a viable alternative to jail for a significant number of those arrested in Philadelphia in a given year.)
  • Pretrial Detention Reform: Recommendations to the Chief Justice Judicial Branch of California Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup, October, 2017(California's pretrial detention system unnecessarily compromises victim & public safety because it bases a person's liberty on financial resources, not their likelihood of future criminal behavior, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities & racial bias.)
  • Punishment Is Not a "Service": The Injustice of Pretrial Conditions in Cook County Chicago Community Bond Fund, October, 2017“The overwhelming experience of people supported by CCBF shows that pretrial conditions expand and compound the harms of incarceration by denying people access to their jobs, housing, social supports, and even medical care.”
  • The Effects of Pre-Trial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges Will Dobbie, Jacob Goldin, and Crystal S. Yang, September, 2017(Pre-trial detention significantly increases the probability of conviction, primarily through increases in guilty pleas. Pre-trial detention has no net effect on future crime, but decreases employment & the receipt of certain government benefits.)
  • Against the Odds: Experimenting with Alternative Forms of Bail in New York City's Criminal Courts Vera Institute of Justice, September, 2017“If New York City courts opted more frequently for alternative forms of bail, they could potentially reduce the use of pretrial detention without compromising other important considerations of compliance with court appearances and public safety.”
  • The Unintended Impact of Pretrial Detention on Case Outcomes: Evidence from New York City Arraignments Emily Leslie and Nolan G. Pope, August, 2017“Our results indicate a strong causal relationship between pretrial detention and case outcomes. We see consistent evidence that detainees plead guilty more often to more serious offenses and some evidence that they serve longer sentences.”
  • Findings from Harris County: Money bail undermines criminal justice goals Prison Policy Initiative, August, 2017“The authors' findings provide strong evidence that bail set without consideration of defendants' ability to pay violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.”
  • Out of Sight: The Growth of Jails in Rural America Vera Institute of Justice, June, 2017“America’s 3,283 local jails are the “front door” to mass incarceration, but for too long have grown outside of public view. Our latest analysis reveals an unexpected finding: there has been a dramatic shift in the geography of incarceration.”
  • Examining Racial Disparities in Criminal Case Outcomes among Indigent Defendants in San Francisco The Quattrone Center & The University of Pennsylvania Law School, May, 2017“Our analysis revealed that Black, White and Latinx indigent defendants in San Francisco have substantially different experiences during the criminal adjudication process.”
  • Selling Off Our Freedom: How insurance corporations have taken over our bail system Color of Change and the American Civil Liberties Union, May, 2017“Fewer than 10 insurance companies are behind a significant majority of bonds issued by as many as 25,000 bail bond agents.”
  • report thumbnail Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth Prison Policy Initiative, May, 2017“In most states over the last three decades, the number of people in jails has outpaced population growth by 2, 3 or even 4 times. In 12 states, the jail population has grown more than 3 times faster than the general population.”
  • Bail Reform in California UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, May, 2017(This report examines California's system of commercial surety bail, recommending that it be replaced with risk assessment tools and non-bail release to improve predictive accuracy, race neutrality, and other outcomes such as fiscal impact.)
  • The Devil in the Details: Bail Bond Contracts in California UCLA School of Law, May, 2017“After analyzing the fine print in more than 100 contract documents online corresponding to 10 sureties, we identified 20 problems with bail bond contracts that violate common notions of fairness and justice.”
  • "Not in it for Justice": How California's Pretrial Detention and Bail System Unfairly Punishes Poor People Human Rights Watch, April, 2017“Nearly every offense in California is bail-eligible, yet many defendants cannot afford to pay. In California, the majority of county jail prisoners have not been sentenced, but are serving time because they are unable to pay for pretrial release.”
  • How California's Pretrial Detention and Bail System Unfairly Punishes Poor People Human Rights Watch, April, 2017“In six California counties examined in detail in this report, the total cost of jailing people whom the prosecutor never charged or who had charges dropped or dismissed was $37.5 million over two years.”
  • New York City's Pretrial Supervised Release Program: An Alternative to Bail Vera Institute of Justice, April, 2017“The supervised release program (SR) in NYC is an example of a new approach to handling cases pretrial. SR gives judges the option to release some defendants who would otherwise be detained due to their inability to make bail.”
  • Pretrial detention costs $13.6 billion each year Prison Policy Initiative, February, 2017“On any given day, this country has 451,000 people behind bars who are being detained pretrial... It costs local governments nationwide: $13.6 billion.”
  • Emptying the 'New Asylums': A Beds Capacity Model to Reduce Mental Illness Behind Bars Treatment Advocacy Center, January, 2017“In Texas, reducing the average hospital stay from 189 days to 186 days would reduce forensic bed waits from an average of two months to three days.”
  • Pretrial Justice: How Much Does It Cost Pretrial Justice Institute, January, 2017“The evidence shows that current pretrial practices--especially those that use money bail and over-use jail beds for lower risk people--are needlessly expensive and doesn’t produce positive results.”
  • Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform Criminal Justice Policy Program, Harvard Law School, October, 2016“When pretrial detention depends on whether someone can afford to pay a cash bond, two otherwise similar pretrial defendants will face vastly different outcomes based merely on their wealth.”
  • Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, October, 2016“More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”
  • Use of Electronic Offender-Tracking Devices Expands Sharply The Pew Charitable Trusts, September, 2016“In 2015, manufacturers reported that about 88,000 GPS units were being used for supervision of accused and convicted offenders, a thirtyfold increase from the roughly 2,900 reported a decade earlier.”
  • Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016 Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2016(The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in thousands of facilities, and we go deeper to provide further detail on where and why.)
  • Who is in jail? Deep dive Prison Policy Initiative, December, 2015“It's very important that we get local officials to focus on the policies that impact the size of their pretrial populations because that's the overwhelming majority of the people in jail on a given day.”
  • Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2015 Prison Policy Initiative, December, 2015(The U.S. locks up more than 2.3 million people in prisons, jails, and other facilities on any given day.)
  • Exploring the Potential for Pretrial Innovation in Massachusetts MassINC, September, 2015“Since 2008, the state’s pretrial population has grown by nearly 13 percent, while arrests have declined by 10 percent and the number of commitments annually to state prisons and county houses of correction has fallen by 22 percent.”
  • Pretrial Detention and Jail Capacity in California Public Policy Institute of California, July, 2015“But California’s high rates of pretrial detention have not been associated with lower rates of failure to appear or lower levels of felony rearrests.”
  • San Francisco Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Racial and ethnic disparities analysis for the reentry council The W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice Fairness & Equity, June, 2015“Black adults are 7.1 times as likely as White adults to be arrested, 11 times as likely to be booked into County Jail, and 10.3 times as likely to be convicted of a crime in San Francisco.”
  • Pretrial Release in California Public Policy Institute of California, May, 2015“This report uses newly available data to provide information about pretrial release in California and to give policymakers a better understanding of the defendants who tend to be released and the form of release they secure.”
  • Effect of Pretrial Detention in Oregon Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, 2015“After controlling for several factors (e.g., criminal history), our analyses reveal that detained defendants were more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as part of their sentence compared to those who were released prior to their disposition..”
  • "Money Bail": Making Ohio a More Dangerous Place to Live The Buckeye Institute, 2015“Ohio should address the demonstrated shortcomings of the cash bail system by expanding the judiciary’s access to proven risk-assessment tools that can provide a fairer, more efficient way to keep our communities safe and secure.”
  • World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List: Third Edition Institute for Criminal Policy Research, 2015“Close to three million [people are] held in pre-trial detention and other forms of remand imprisonment throughout the world.”
  • Presumption of Guilt: The Global Overuse of Pretrial Detention Open Society Justice Initiative, September, 2014“The present global cohort of 3.3 million pretrial detainees will collectively spend an estimated 660 million days in detention-a terrible waste of human potential that comes at a considerable cost to states, taxpayers, families, and communities.”
  • Race and Prosecution in Manhattan Vera Institute of Justice, July, 2014(Blacks and Latinos were particularly likely to be held in pretrial detention for misdemeanor person offenses, followed by misdemeanor drug offenses. Blacks and Latinos were also most likely to have their cases dismissed for misdemeanor drug offenses.)
  • Inside Out Questionable and Abusive Practices in New Jersey's Bail-Bond Industry State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation, May, 2014“The result is a disorderly process driven by private profit rather than public interest and one that is dangerously out of balance when it comes to both the rights of the defendents and the requirements of the criminal justice system.”
  • The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“When held 8-14 days, low-risk defendants are 51 percent more likely to commit another crime within two years after completion of their cases than equivalent defendants held no more than 24 hours.”
  • Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“Less than 10% of judicial officers across the country use pretrial risk assessment tools to make these decisions, in part because they require costly and time-consuming defendant interviews.”
  • Investigating the Impact of Pretrial Detention on Sentencing Outcomes Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“Low-risk defendants who are detained for the entire pretrial period are 5.41 times more likely to be sentenced to jail and 3.76 times more likely to be sentenced to prison when compared to low-risk defendants who are released ... before trial...”
  • Exploring the Impact of Supervision on Pretrial Outcomes Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“Defendants supervised pretrial for more than 180 days were 12% to 36% less likely to commit new crimes before case disposition.”
  • Are Immigration Detainer Practices Rational? Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, September, 2013“According to these data, an undocumented foreign national with a traffic offense is more likely to be booked into ICE detention than one with a homicide, forcible rape, robbery, or aggravated assault offense.”
  • Pretrial Detention And Misconduct In Federal District Courts, 1995-2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics, February, 2013“The number of defendants with cases disposed in federal district courts more than doubled from 45,635 in 1995 to 100,622 in 2010.”
  • Addressing Racial Disparities In Bail Determinations New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, 2013“...Seventy-five percent of pretrial detainees are charged with relatively minor property crimes, drug offenses or other non-violent acts, and remain in jail simply because the money bond was set in an amount they cannot afford to pay.”
  • Sheriffs' Offices, 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics, December, 2012“From 1987 to 2007, the number of full-time employees in sheriffs' offices increased from about 189,000 to more than 346,000”
  • The Texas Commission on Jail Standards: The State's Solution for Implementing A Strong County Jail System While Protecting Counties From Liability Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, November, 2012“Texas Commission on Jail Standards guards Texas counties from damaging lawsuits, specifically by setting constitutional jail standards for counties to follow, conducting facility inspections, and enforcing compliance with rules and procedures.”
  • Bail Fail Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail Justice Policy Institute, September, 2012“Although judges and judicial officers may deny or simply not be aware of any racial bias [...], there is strong evidence that these bail decision makers consider the lost freedom caused by pretrial detention to be a greater loss for whites than for blacks”
  • A Decade of Bail Research in New York City New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc., August, 2012“Defendants who are detained pretrial are more likely to be convicted, if convicted they are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration, and if incarcerated, their sentences are likely to be longer.”
  • Exploring Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) for Women in Massachusetts Wellesley Centers for Women, July, 2011“As stated previously, the reason that many women are held in the ATU at MCI-F is because they lacked the financial resources to secure bail set as low as $50.00.”
  • Pre-Trial Detention of Dangerous and Violent Defendants Following Passage of the Omnibus Public Safety Justice Amendment Act of 2009 Urban Institute, 2011“We find a steady increase from 2007 through 2010 in the probability of detention for dangerous and violent defendants without associated weapons charges, on public safety grounds.”
  • The Price of Freedom: Bail and Pretrial Detention of Low Income Nonfelony Defendants in New York City Human Rights Watch, December, 2010“People should not have to endure jail simply because they are too poor to buy their way out, particularly when there are other ways of ensuring that such defendants make their scheduled court appearances.”
  • Baltimore Behind Bars How to Reduce the Jail Population, Save Money, and Improve Public Safety Justice Policy Institute, June, 2010“9 out of 10 people in the [Baltimore] jail are awaiting trial, compared to about 2 out of 3 in the rest of the country. [Reducing] the number of people held pretrial in a safe and effective way can greatly reduce the jail population & associated costs.”
  • Philadelphia's Crowded, Costly Jails: The Search for Safe Solutions Pew Charitable Trusts, May, 2010
  • Efficiency and Cost: The Impact of Videoconferenced Hearings on Bail Decisions Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 2010“We find a sharp increase in the average amount of bail set in cases subject to the video conferencing, but no change in cases that continued to have live hearings.”
  • World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List Pre-trail detainees and other remand prisoners in all five continents International Centre for Prison Studies, January, 2008“..this List refers to those persons who, in connection with an alleged offence or offences, are deprived of their liberty following a judicial or other legal process but have not been definitively sentenced by a court for the offence(s).”
  • Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants in State Courts Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 2007“Presents findings on the pretrial release phase of the criminal justice process using data collected from a representative sample of felony cases filed in the 75 largest U.S. counties in May during even-numbered years from 1990 to 2004.”("About 3 in 5 felony defendants in the 75 largest counties were released prior to the disposition of their case.")
  • Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees Human Rights Watch, April, 2005
  • Community-Based Treatment: The Impact of the Homeless Pretrial Release Project Justice Policy Institute, June, 2000
  • Federal Pretrial Release and Detention, 1996 Bureau of Justice Statistics, February, 1999
  • Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants, 1992: National Pretrial Reporting Program Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 1994

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